Decorating with Chocolate
When decorating with chocolate it should be tempered (to enable it to set in a stable crystal structure) before use to ensure a glossy, hard finish (it will snap) with some shrinkage (easier to remove from mould). The gloss is particularly important when making chocolates, using chocolate in moulds including Easter Eggs etc. and when coating cakes – any use where the chocolate requires a hard sheen. If just melted and allowed to cool to a working temperature, the finished result will be dull and matt.
When used for flavouring, and mixing into, desserts such as creams, mousses and soufflés etc. this is not so important, and simply melting is probably sufficient.
Adding pre-tempered chocolate to the melted chocolate makes tempering easy. This is why callets (buttons) are so popular as they are pre-tempered.
The use of a thermometer for accuracy, is recommended, but not essential.
Use a microwave, or place chocolate in a Bain Marie.
Melt chocolate to a temperature of 45ºC and stir until melted completely. (Out of a 1kg bag, initially melt approx. ¾ of the callets). Out of the remaining callets in the bag, add a handful at a time, stirring until melted and always checking the temperature. Repeat this until the chocolate has cooled to 32ºC for dark chocolate, 31ºC for milk, and 30ºC for white, and all the callets have melted.
To test for successful tempering
Spread a thin layer of the chocolate onto a cool surface. It should set hard quickly and with a shine. If not, just add a few more callets and stir in.
Uses for Chocolate
Once tempered, chocolate has so many uses –
Baking – Cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies and Desserts. Simply add dark, milk or white chocolate to your mixture.
Melt – A favourite and very simple recipe for making, especially at Christmas, is a Rocky Road, sometimes referred to as Chocolate fridge cake. Even easier is a Bark, where you spread the chocolate into a tin, and drop onto it all your favourite goodies, sweets included, and the more colourful the better! How about making some truffles – always popular!
Modelling Paste – Simply add glucose syrup to your melted chocolate, and work till smooth. Do not overwork as the paste may become greasy and unmanageable. Make models to suit your theme, use in moulds, or roll out to cover your cake. A delicious covering is made by mixing 50:50 with marzipan – how about covering your Christmas cake with this?
Coating – Melt and pour over cakes cookies, ice creams etc, or add cream to make a delicious ganache coating, for your cakes. Colours may be added to white chocolate to match a theme.
Piping – Pipe inscriptions, decorations onto cakes, cupcakes and cookies.
Decorations – Cigarellos large and small, curls, panels, triangles, piped flowers, filigree etc.
Transfer sheets – use with melted chocolate to give vibrant patterns in a variety of colours and designs. Simply spread melted chocolate onto the transfer sheet (cocoa butter design facing up!), allow to cool a little, then cut out desired shapes.
Moulds – Pour into moulds to create your very own assortment of chocolates. Moulds are also available to create chocolate goodies for any occasion, from seasonal to party themes, sport, baby, numbers/letters, and of course Easter eggs in any size.
Dipping – Very popular recently for weddings and parties, has been the Chocolate fountain! However, if you wish to dip into chocolate on a smaller scale, simply melt in a bowl, and assemble all your delicious treats such as strawberries, banana, pineapple or any other suitable fruit, plus marshmallows, churros, nuts, cookies – the list is endless! Perfect for any party!